published Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Trojans and Bruisers win TSSAA state bowling titles

Soddy-Daisy High School and Girls Preparatory School earned their first state bowling championships Saturday at the Smyrna Bowling Center.

The Soddy-Daisy boys wound up 21-0 for the season with a dramatic last-frame 14-13 win over Columbia Central in their TSSAA Division I final, while GPS finished 23-0 with a 21-6 win over St. Benedict, which had eliminated the Bruisers in the Division II semifinals or quarterfinals the past four years.

Both local champs bowl out of Holiday Bowl Hixson, as do the Soddy-Daisy girls, who lost 17.5 to 9.5 to Collierville in a Division I semifinal while McCallie was falling 22-5 to Donelson Christian Academy in Division II boys.

GPS's drama was in its semifinal against defending state champion St. Agnes. The Bruisers trailed 11-5 and by 81 pins after a particularly disappointing game two, but they outpinned the Memphis school by 140 in a 7-1 third-game romp for a 15-12 victory and their first-ever finals appearance.

Sara Maynord, who had won the Division II girls' individual title a day earlier, was the only Bruiser above 146 with her sterling 210 second game, and she had a 190 that included three 10th-frame strikes for a one-pin win in game three, when Sydney Leech rolled a 230 for GPS.

"Oh my gosh, that was the most exciting match we've ever bowled," GPS coach Jenise Gordon said later. "We told the girls after that second game, 'You've backed yourselves in a corner, now you've got to get back out of it.' I know they were looking ahead to St. Benedict and they shouldn't have been, but we found out St. Agnes was doing the same thing.

"What was so powerful to me is that you can get a group of girls and teach them how to bowl, but it's hard to teach someone how to win, and our girls just came through in that third game. If they gave an MVP award, Kara Maynord would definitely get it.

"We took care of St. Benedict real quickly. It was great," Gordon added. "They had just come off a real emotional win, too, over St. Mary's, and we started off strong and did not slow down."

Maynord rolled a 214 in the first game of the final match, and Sara Griffith had a 189 in that 6-2 win and a 199 in game three.

Soddy-Daisy seniors Allyn Pickett and Joseph Leffew led the Trojans in their two wins with 1,287 and 1,263 total pins. Pickett had a 638 series in the 15.5 to 11.5 semifinal win over Hardin County and closed with a 245 and a 236 in the final, when Leffew totaled 659. But the big trophy ultimately came down to junior Tanner Johnson, who led them through the season and with a 661 that included a 278 first game against Hardin.

He was the last bowler to finish the finals match, and in the 10th frame he felled a 10-pin for a spare and added a strike for a 187 total and an eight-pin win. The Trojans won 6-2 in game three, with a 15-pin team edge, and won the title although Columbia edged them 3,575 to 3,574 for the three final bonus points.

Columbia won the first game 5-3, but the Trojans won the second game by the same margin.

"We had to win six points some way in that last game," coach David O'Malley Sr. said, "and Tanner was our last guy. He had to pick up the 10-pin, and he'd been having trouble with that all day, and then get a good number. He buried that last throw."

The Lady Trojans also bowled well, exceeding their pin total from their quarterfinal win, but "we just got out-bowled in that [semifinal] match," O'Malley said. "This was a tough bunch just getting to the final four, and we're very proud of them too."

Niki Bell finished her career with a 656 series.

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